Plan your menu. I’m a fan of ordering take-out because even at my best I can’t top an egg roll from a Chinese restaurant. I also like to do at least a little cooking. Our guests helped with the food this year, and that made it especially fun. Their desserts were incredible. If you’re ordering food, don’t ask me for tips on how much to order. Last year I over-ordered and finished the last of the shrimp fried rice just before Christmas. This year I underestimated how hungry our guests would be, and we have just a little left. Bottom line? People love Chinese food. And banana pudding.
And monkey bread.
And, of course, cakes shaped like the animal of the year. I would be lying if I told you we hadn’t already started discussing the Year of the Rooster cake.
Or maybe I go way overboard.
This year we threw in some monkeys, and my sister-in-law found this adorable hand-stitched Chinese monkey for us.
You don’t need to spend much money. We found Chinese fans at the dollar store and placed a basket of oranges near the door. But Amazon definitely saw me coming with their recommendations, which is why we own a Chinese lion marionette. No regrets here on any of the purchases. Of course, that might be why I’m giving up online shopping for Lent, but we’ll discuss that later.
Plan some games. We include many children, but I might do this even if we were having an adult party. Who doesn’t love Chinese New Year bingo or a bit of trivia? We always have a craft table, and I am a big fan of Pass the Present, which involves children sitting in a circle and taking turns shredding the newspaper layers into piles on the floor.
The crafts don’t have to be anything extraordinary. I printed some coloring pages and offered a place where the children could make their own Chinese New Year cards.
I also ordered some amazing paper lanterns from Luna Bazaar, and the children decorated them. I found the bookmarks and little placemats to color on Oriental Trading. All fun, but not all necessary if you would rather go simpler. (And I get no credit or kickback for mentioning them here. That’s just where I shop.)
Don’t forget the fortune cookies. Yes, they aren’t authentically Chinese, but they are Chinese-American, and they are fun. At our Year of the Monkey party, they all seemed to contain the same fortune. How can we top that next year?
Xin Nian Kuai Le! Happy New Year! Wishing you and your loved ones health and happiness in this Year of the Monkey!